Why taking “no” for an answer can be less limiting than expected

Nov 14 2014

For the past few weeks, my team, TourSync, has been working on finding a way to fund a new audio tour device for museums. We started by contacting a big name sponsor of large technology projects like ours, and never heard back from them. Yesterday, I figured out why. Unsolicited grant proposals simply aren’t their thing, according to a notice on the organization’s website.

With a week left before Pitch Day, we’re now back at the drawing board, seeking a way to bring our project into the next realm of possibility.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the negative response. People don’t like being asked for money. But the culture of Reese News Lab won’t let me take “no” for an answer. From the first day of lab this semester, a rule was established that we don’t turn down ideas. We accept everything and consider whether they make sense later.

By nature, I tend to be a people pleaser. And although I’ve spent a lot of time in math and science classes learning how to be analytical and how to filter out unreasonable courses of action quickly, I get a rush from taking questionable ideas and figuring out how to make them unquestionable.

With that said, I’d been walking around the lab for a week or so badgering myself. I wanted to know why this sponsor hadn’t emailed us back, why they didn’t want us, why they said “no” with closed eyes and ears. And the answer is simply because they can.

That’s enlightening. Being denied of something draws clear lines of authority between the denied and the denier. On one hand, it can place the denied in a box from which it seems impossible to escape. On the other hand, it can build a platform to support the cultivation of improved ideas.

This week has humbled me and pulled me back down to reality. It’s also reignited my fervor for fighting for ideas I believe in. I guess I’ll just never be apt to settle with “no” for answer.

Previously on Tour Sync:

How a great idea can only go so far: The struggle of how to fund our project

How the startup curve is a real life roller coaster

How talking to strangers can be fun

The countdown has begun: Five weeks into Reese News Lab

Dear tourism professionals: A value proposition

My personal thank you to IRB

How might we make museums more interesting?

New user testing at the Old Well


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